Hundreds of gaily dressed members of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), on Thursday, May 18, 2017, stormed the Banquet Hall of Solab Hotels and Suites, Ikeja, from every nook and cranny of the country for the 7th Annual General Meeting of the society.
Reading his address, which was accompanied with great applause at the AGM, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji said, ‘‘there is no doubt anymore that the Nigerian economy is under tremendous stress as a result of the steep fall in the price of crude oil which has been the main stay of the economy. The government has made it clear that it counts on the entertainment industry to play an important role in stabilising the nation’s economy. I believe that it is our duty to do what we can to save our country and COSON is ready to work with the government to build a world class music industry in Nigeria that contributes meaningfully to the national economy and provides good paying jobs to hundreds of thousands of our citizens.
“For us to play our role effectively however, the government cannot pretend to understand our situation better than us. The government must engage us closely, listen to our issues and then take actions based on sound policy formulation instead of knee jack reactions.
“For instance, the government cannot say that it wants the entertainment industry to grow and yet looks the other way while government agencies engage in horrendous copyright infringement.
“No one familiar with the history of the copyright system in Nigeria can see the wisdom in the chaos that has been caused by the reported directive to the NCC to approve another CMO for musical works and sound recordings and to stop the prosecution of seven criminal cases against an organization which has shown complete contempt for Nigerian law and institutions.
“Since the present government took over, we have repeatedly called for the activation of the private copy levy scheme provided for under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We have no reason at this moment to believe that the call is receiving appropriate attention.
“Around the continent, pirated Nigerian music continues to dominate the airwaves and music shops. We believe that a government which wants to grow our entertainment industry must take interest and engage meaningfully with these nations at the diplomatic and international trade levels and ensure that these national assets are not frittered away.’’
Said Chief Okoroji, ‘You all will recall that on May 17, last year in the Oranminyan Hall of Lagos Airport Hotel, we held our 6th Annual General Meeting. On Saturday, May 20, 2017, it will be the 7th anniversary of the historic approval of COSON by the Nigerian Copyright Commission as the nation’s sole collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings. That approval began Nigeria’s true participation in the world of collective management of copyright paving the way for the many success stories of the last seven years. What you will notice is that not once since that historic approval in May 2010 have we failed to hold our Annual General Meeting in the month of May. Similarly, not once since we began operations have we failed to hold an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting in the month of December and not once at those EGMs have we failed to approve several millions of Naira for distribution as royalties to our members.’
On royalty distribution, the COSON chairman said ‘It will be recalled that in December 2016 at the Extra-Ordinary General Meeting, the distribution of the sum of N200,000,000 (two hundred million naira) proposed by the Board, was approved. I am pleased to report that a significant percentage of members have received their royalties in accordance with the decisions approved by you”
There was an eruption of joy at the venue when Chief Tony Okoroji announced that the “COSON House” has become a reality. The celebrated author and intellectual property guru said ‘In line with the resolution passed by you at the Extra- Ordinary General Meeting of December 2014 directing your Board to work towards acquiring a befitting permanent office fully owned by our society. I am very happy to announce to you that a walking distance from this venue, the magnificent COSON House today stands in glory for all times at 41, Oluwaleimu Street, Ikeja as a tribute to your trust and belief in our leadership”
Members at the AGM were later taken on a tour of the COSON House which accommodates the largest database of music in the nation with millions of entries run on documentation platforms like the WIPO designed WIPOCOS and the CISAC CISNET. COSON House also houses the COSONET, a digital platform that electronically monitors the public use of music across the country and assists in empirical distribution of music copyright royalties to copyright owners. Another digital platform running at COSON House is CLAP, the COSON Licensing Application Platform which allows any potential user of music to easily obtain a licence for the use of the music at anytime from anywhere. Thrilled by the magnificence of the edifice, at COSON House, there was jubilation, singing and dancing by COSON members, young and old as they praised the Almighty and their leaders for the historic achievement.
At the elections that took place during the AGM, four members of the Board: Mrs Azeezat Allen, Mr. Audu Maikori, Hon John Ewelukwa Udegbunam and Chief Tony Okoroji were returned to the Board.